For second week in a row, Trojans become the hunted

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Sports Editor

Like night and day.

The Troy State Trojans go from facing the spread out attack of Cal-State Northridge last weekend to a 1-AA team that loves to churn out the yardage on the ground.

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TSU plays host to Southern Utah this weekend for homecoming and the Thunderbirds entered the 2001 season as the defending 1-AA rushing statistical champions, averaging 394 yards per game rushing.

But then again, the T-Birds finished their 2001 season at 7-4. This year’s squad enters Memorial Stadium on Saturday with a 1-6 record.

Again, like night and day.

But quarterback Brock Nutter isn’t overlooking anyone.

"They (SU) are a feisty group and won’t just lay down for us," he said. "They will come in here ready to shock the world and beat a good team, so we have to be ready for them."

Shock the world? That sounds exactly what Troy State was trying to do, when it lost twice to No. 1 Miami and No. 4 Nebraska, while beating Mississippi State two week’s ago.

And it was what an

unintimidated Cal-State Northridge team came close to doing to Troy State on Saturday, falling 44-31 to the Trojans instead.

At least for the past three weeks on the campus of Troy State University, it’s felt like old times. Head coach Larry Blakeney and the Trojans have been winning, going from the hunter to the hunted. Like Cal-State, Southern Utah is a 1-AA team and the Trojans know how to win at that level.

Troy State’s just a year-removed from that classification, where they went 87-23-1 under Blakeney.

Those numbers don’t faze the 11-year head coach.

"Southern Utah doesn’t have very good record, but they are still a dangerous team," said Blakeney. "They run a lot of option and their biggest threat is running the football. The main thing is to execute and play hard for 60 minutes. We have to be excited about playing and know what we have to do to win."

Although the Trojans’ defense allowed 31 first half points to the Matadors and quarterback Marcus Brady, the TSU offense was able to respond with its highest offensive output of the year. Nutter and company answered each Matador score with one of their own, the lone exception being Brady’s 12-yard pass to Jamaal Perry with 10 seconds left in the first half.

Nutter, who threw for 394 yards and three touchdowns, knew a game like Saturday’s would come.

"It seemed like a lot of people were surprised by it, but we knew we could do it," he said. "We have always had the playmakers to get a fast score and we need to keep it going."

Kickoff on Saturday is at 2 p.m.